For Buckeye state residents interested in forensic science, crime scene investigation (CSI) and related disciplines, there are a number of quality forensics colleges in Ohio (OH). After graduating from a program, these professionals typically help in solving crimes by collecting evidence from crime scenes; performing laboratory analyses; collaborating with various experts in fields such as ballistics, handwriting, and metallurgy; and even testifying in court.
In Ohio, there are a variety of top programs, including flexible online options, for those who want to become involved in this exciting line of work. In order to become a forensic scientist, candidates typically pursue a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences. Others, including many crime scene investigators, may get their careers started in a police academy, garnering many of the necessary skills while in the field. There are a variety of paths for aspiring forensic scientists detailed below.
Forensic science is a relatively high-paying career, especially in Ohio. According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), forensic science technicians make an average of $61,220 annually, significantly higher than the average salary for all occupations in the country ($50,620). There is especially good news for forensic scientists in Ohio, as the annual average salary for forensic science techs in this state is slightly higher than the national average at $65,890. The BLS estimates that there are currently 400 forensic science technicians employed in Ohio, although this figure is expected to grow in coming years (BLS 2017). Between 2016 and 2026, the number of forensic science techs in the U.S. is expected to climb 17 percent, with a number of those job openings in Ohio.
To learn about degree programs, certifications, and the job outlook for forensic scientists in Ohio, read on below.
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In order to become a forensic scientist in Ohio, there are a variety of educational and experiential paths, although a four-year college degree is a typical requirement. Here is one of the most common routes for a career in forensic science:
Therefore, in Ohio, aspiring forensic scientists can expect to complete four to six years of postsecondary work, in addition to completing optional certification requirements. Again, while registering as a forensic scientist is not required for practice in the state of Ohio, it may be desirable to enhance one’s credentials at various employing organizations. By passing aptitude tests or fulfilling membership criteria in organizations such as the ABC, candidates may enhance their candidacy for various jobs.
Also, by taking electives such as toxicology, psychology, or physical anthropology, forensic scientists can hone their skills in specific areas. According to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), there are a number of specialized disciplines within forensic science, including the following:
Taking electives in any of the subjects listed above may help forensic scientists secure jobs with more specific skill requirements. For more information, the ForensicsColleges.com education blog offers a detailed breakdown of how to become a forensic scientist.
According to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Laboratory Division, there are over 160,000 pieces of evidence processed annually in crime scene investigations. In order to become a crime scene investigator in Ohio, candidates typically do the following:
Therefore, crime scene investigators in Ohio can expect to complete six months to four years of postsecondary work, in addition to optional certification requirements. Again, while certification by agencies such as the ICSIA is not a requirement in Ohio, it may be desirable as a show of a candidate’s aptitude when applying for jobs.
Prior to seeking a CSI program or a certification, candidates in Ohio should be sure to check the requirements of their intended place of employment. For more information, the ForensicsColleges.com education blog features a detailed breakdown of how to become a crime scene investigator.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes both forensic scientists and CSIs under its “forensic science technician” categorization. According to the BLS (2017), there are 400 forensic science technicians working in Ohio. The BLS projects that openings in this field will grow 17 percent between 2016 and 2026, with a number of these openings in Ohio. Indeed, Career One Stop indicates a predicted growth of 24 percent in this field specific to Ohio (CareerOneStop.org) In 2017, the average salary for those working in forensic science in Ohio was $65,890, slightly higher than the national average for this occupation ($61,220).
The BLS (2017) provides the salary range for forensic science technicians in Ohio:
The top-paying metropolitan regions and the reported annual average salaries for forensic science technicians were:
The top-employing metropolitan regions (and number of forensic science techs employed) were:
Typically many of the jobs in forensic science may be found in the larger cities due to higher crime rates and a greater need for crime-solving teams. For example, the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio employs forensic scientists to assist local law enforcement agencies. It also has the distinction of being the first crime lab in the state of Ohio to be accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). Having this national accreditation may be an indicator of the integrity, consistency, impartiality, and quality of the laboratory services. Other employing organizations for forensic science technicians in Ohio may include:
Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators in Ohio typically work in laboratories, police stations, classrooms, medical examiner offices, hospitals, or morgues or at crime scenes. There are also a number of positions available in federal, state, and local governments.
For those seeking professional support on a regional level, the Ohio Identification Officers Association may offer an additional sense of community with its annual training conference.
There are a number of top undergraduate programs for forensic science in Ohio. After graduating from high school and completing typical prerequisites such as chemistry, mathematics, and biology, students in Ohio may be eligible to apply. Please note that many employing organizations also require that their candidates be of “strong moral character,” and may ask for background checks, reference letters, or other measures to ensure students’ ethical behavior and suitability for the work.
Forensics schools in Ohio include:
In addition to the various forensic science program offerings in Ohio, students also have a number of resources at their disposal including the Forensic Science Institute of Ohio and the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC).
Some students in Ohio may have full-time jobs or family commitments that prevent them from attending a traditional “brick-and-mortar” school. Online and hybrid programs can provide additional options and flexibility. One of the more convenient online options for studying forensic science in Ohio is North Central State College.
Please note that many forensics programs in Ohio require classroom participation since laboratory procedures require sophisticated equipment that can’t be used from home.
Students may be able to find additional online options and coursework through campus-based forensics colleges in Ohio, or by checking out the national listing of online forensics and CSI programs.
There are a number of organizations that provide accreditation to forensics programs in Ohio. Schools that have received accreditation typically undergo a rigorous process to ensure they are meeting standards of quality in instruction, program content, student outcomes, and other measures. The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) is the primary organization which accredits programs in forensic science. As noted above, Ohio University is the only OH program to receive FEPAC accreditation at the programmatic level. However, those programs that do not have FEPAC accreditation can still offer highly valuable training. Further, FEPAC accredits very few programs overall and does not consider programs without a heavily science-focused curriculum, which means most CSI and criminal justice programs are ineligible for accreditation.
Finally, forensic science professionals do not need any special certification to practice in the state of Ohio, but some employers may express a preference for certified job candidates. Here is a list of some of the organizations offering certifications for forensic scientists, technicians, and CSIs in Ohio:
|Youngstown State University||Youngstown||x||12|
|University of Northwestern Ohio||Lima||x||x||11|
|Bowling Green State University-Main Campus||Bowling Green||x||11|
|Sinclair Community College||Dayton||x||8|
|The University of Findlay||Findlay||x||7|
|Washington State Community College||Marietta||x||7|
|Zane State College||Zanesville||x||6|
|Ohio Northern University||Ada||x||4|
|Central Ohio Technical College||Newark||x||4|
|Southern State Community College||Hillsboro||x||3|
|Lorain County Community College||Elyria||x||x||3|
|University of Akron Main Campus||Akron||x||x||2|
|Stark State College||North Canton||x||1|
School "total forensics grads" data provided by IPEDS (2018) for the 2016-2017 school year, and includes all certificates and degrees awarded for the following programs: Criminalistics and Criminal Science, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Science and Technology, Forensic Psychology, Cyber/Computer Forensics, and Financial Forensics and Fraud Investigation.